Welcome to Discovering the Male Mysteries with Mel Mystery. This blog is a supplement to my podcast is for and about gay and bi pagan men. My podcasts are about what it is to be gay, what it is to be pagan, what it is to be men — sometimes as separate topics and sometimes all meshed together as one. I started this endeavor after seeing that there were few, if any, podcasts out there on this topic. The podcasts are informative, and present topics that challenge conventional thinking.

Archive for July, 2018

What is Druidry?

English Druids

A depiction of ancient Druids. From the Wikimedia Commons.

Druidism was the religious and scholarly path of the ancient Celts. Druids were the priests, scholars, and advisors of the ancient Celtic world.  They studied for 20 years to become a full druid.  Other ranks included Bards who were storytellers and musicians and Ovates who devoted themselves to divination and healing. Unfortunately the ancient druids didn’t write anything down and committed all their beliefs and practices to memory and oral tradition, so most of what we know comes from secondary sources and conjecture. Modern druids tend to fall into one of several categories including: Reconstructionist druids, neo-pagan druids, and fraternal druids. Reconstructionist druids are dedicated to reconstructing ancient druid beliefs and practices to be as authentic as possible. Neopagan druids tend to focus on the spiritual aspects of druidry.  They honor and worship the ancient Celtic deities, nature spirits, and their ancestors. Other Neopagan beliefs and practices such as Wicca are sometimes merged and there is often overlap between scholarly druidry and spiritual druidry. Fraternal druids act as fraternal and charitable groups and use druid symbology, but aren’t necessarily Pagan in belief.  Druids have traditionally been considered male, though there are accounts of ancient female Druidesses. With the exception of some historic fraternal orders, most modern Druid organizations are open to men and women.  As with other Pagan groups, druids tend to be open and welcoming to people of all sexual orientations and gender associations.

As far as we know, the ancient Celts had no prohibitions against homosexuality. In fact, many of their tales mention homosexual relationships in a rather matter-of-fact way, while other tales talk of the deep bonds between same-sex persons.  Roman and Greek accounts of the Celts mention Celtic warriors who were deeply insulted if their advances for homosexual sex were refused. Some historic accounts mention Celts who slept on animal skins with their male lovers, and other accounts mention them having a male lover on one side and a female lover on the other.

Cuchulaiin's Lament

Excerpt from the Lament of Cuchulaiin for Ferdia.

At least one tale speaks of lesbian sex among the ancient Celts. In “Niall Frossach,” from The Book of Leinster, lesbian sex is specifically mentioned as “playful mating.”

The tale of Cuchulainn and Ferdia is often brought up as an example of male homosexuality among the ancient Celts. These two warriors were also lovers, but the tale ends tragically when they are forced to fight each other to the death on opposite sides in the same battle.  Cuchulainn laments the death of his friend with these words:

Fast friend, forest companions
We made one bed and slept one sleep
In foreign lands after the fray
Scathach’s pupils, two together
We’d set forth to comb the forest

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Are you Guilty of Bi Erasure?

Bisexual Pride Flag

Bisexual Pride Flag

Bisexual erasure is the tendency to deny the existence or legitimacy of bisexuality and bisexual individuals. The most common forms of bi erasure include simply ignoring bisexual identity, and also believing that bisexuals are going through a phase and that they will eventually realize they are either homosexual or heterosexual. Extreme forms of bi erasure involve denial that bisexuality actually exists, removing or falsifying evidence of bisexuality from history, and ignoring bisexuals the news media (even from LGBT media).

Bi erasure is furthered by the misconception that sexuality is a binary with only homosexual and heterosexual orientations. For some folks, it is inconceivable that there are people out there attracted to both men and women (the idea that gender is a strict binary is perhaps a topic for a later article).  Believing in the binary model validates the experiences and perceived legitimacy of many who identify strictly as either heterosexual or homosexual. Gay people can be just as guilty of bi erasure as straight people.  Many bisexual people feel pressured and ignored by both the straight and gay communities.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Alfred Kinsey and other sex researchers interviewed thousands of men and women about their sexual attractions and practices. Out of their research came a tool known as the Kinsey Scale (also called the Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale).  Kinsey and his colleagues discovered that sexual orientation falls on a spectrum rather than a strict binary.  This spectrum is often visualized as a bell curve.  This curve can be skewed for a variety of reasons, such as social conditioning and peer pressure, which affect whether someone identifies as or acts on their bisexuality, homosexuality, or heterosexuality.  Heterosexual people have the most support and affirmation from society.  Those outside factors aside, most of the population falls into varying degrees of bisexuality regardless of whether they acknowledge or identify their bisexual attractions and regardless of whether they act on them.  For many, sexuality is fluid and attractions can change at different points in one’s life.  Bisexual people are not necessarily attracted to both sexes and genders equally either.  They can fall at various points on the Kinsey scale and not necessarily at the exact center.

Some examples of bi erasure and misconceptions that support this erasure include:

  • Believing that bisexuality is a phase and that the bisexual person will eventually choose to be gay or straight.
  • Believing that bisexuals are simply straight folks experimenting with their sexuality.
  • Believing that bisexuals are actually gay, but not ready to admit it.
  • Omitting a person’s bisexuality from historical reports or media stories.
  • Leaving bisexuals out of discussions on LGBT rights and not giving them a voice in LGBT organizations.
  • Assuming that all same-sex couples are completely gay or that all other-sex couples are completely straight.
  • Assuming someone’s sexual orientation as either gay or straight based on the gender of their partner.
  • Believing that bisexual people are protected by passing privilege.
  • Believing that bisexual people are indecisive or confused.
  • Assuming that bisexual people aren’t affected by same-sex marriage debates.
  • Assuming that all bisexuals are in polyamorous or open relationships, but also assuming that some bisexuals are not.
  • If you are bisexual, calling yourself gay, straight, queer or some term other than bisexual because it’s less complicated than calling yourself bi.

What is Norse Paganism?

The Norse god Freyr was said to have homosexual priests who rang bells. Photo from the Wikimedia Commons.

Norse paganism includes Asatru, Heathenry, and Odinism among other related paths.   Norse pagans honor and worship the Norse gods and goddesses including Odin, Thor, and Freya.  The Norse gods and goddesses fall into two categories, the Aesir and the Vanir.  The Aesir are the principal pantheon and are typically war gods who live in Asgard. The Vanir are a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom and the ability to see the future. Norse pagans also honor nature spirits (such as elves) and their ancestors. Most of what we know about these gods and goddesses and their mythologies comes from the Icelandic Prose and Poetic Edda’s and the Norse Sagas.

Norse pagans celebrate feasts and rituals called Sumbels and Blóts, which usually involve food and mead or some other form of alcohol. There are two types of magic in Norse paganism – Galdr and Seiðr. Galdr (pronounced “galder”) is the masculine form of Norse magic and involves the use of runes and staves.  Seiðr (pronounced “seether”) is the feminine form of Norse magic associated with the goddess Freya and is a form of shamanism. There were accounts of male practitioners of Seiðr, known as seiðmenn, but in practicing magic they brought a social taboo, known as ergi, onto themselves. Ergi was a term of insult, denoting effeminacy or other unmanly behavior. Some of the Norse gods including Odin not only practiced Seiðr, but cross-dressed. Certain aspects of Seiðr were sexual in nature and likely involved actual sexual acts. While homosexuality was looked down upon in ancient Norse cultures, Vanir gods and goddesses such as Freya and Freyr are said to have had gay or effeminate priests. Freyr is a male fertility god, who while very masculine and heterosexual himself had effeminate male priests who were said to ring bells.